How to Spot the Most Common Engine Ailments

It’s pretty obvious to most that the engine underneath your hood is a pretty complex piece of machinery. We therefore rely on well-trained and skilled mechanics at our local dealership to help us when we encounter any difficulty. The ordinary driver may not be a trained automotive professional, but there are still important signs you can look for that indicate your car’s engine is having a problem. Sometimes, these early signs can mean the difference between a minor maintenance invoice and a huge repair bill.
Typical engine problems include examples like:
l  Eroded, bent or otherwise damaged gaskets and valves
l  A build-up of carbon on spark plugs
l  Contaminants in the engine oil that build over time
l  Electrical problems
l  Filters are clogged up
l  Belts get worn out

So, what signs can you look out for that can warn you of these problems? Many can turn into serious problems if left unchecked. Let’s see:

1. Look out for a dash warning light
Your dash is quite proficient at lighting up when one of your key systems is experiencing an issue. Your first line of defense lies right there on the dash. Heed its warnings and take your car to the dealership for a checkup or tune up if you see one. The lights are not arbitrary! Don’t ignore them.

2. Excessive engine noise or apparent shaking
If you sense (or see with the hood open) that the engine is shaking and/or making much more noise than usual, then this is also a strong warning. The additional noise is typically generated more by your exhaust system rather than the engine, but the problem is likely to originate in your car’s engine. One of your gaskets or seals may have ruptured, or a hose might be damaged, or the timing belt might have a hole. All of these possibilities warrant a professional opinion.

3. Smoke (of any color)
If you see black smoke, then that is probably a clogged filter. If you see blue smoke, it’s likely to be a valve that has worn out. White smoke suggests a blown gasket. Did you ever think that so much different smoke could come from your engine? If you catch sight of any, it’s a certainty that something is wrong.

4. Unwelcome or unfamiliar smells/noises
The normal operation of your car shouldn’t allow any strange smells or persistent noises to enter the passenger compartment. If you smell burning, or oil, or hear tapping, knocking or grinding, none of these things are normal in any car, especially new cars.
With many of these signs, you can’t afford to wait and see what they turn into later. This kind of mechanical problem won’t resolve itself. It will only get worse (and more expensive to fix). If you spot anything, get on the horn to your dealership and get help.

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